Murder at Full Moon: John Steinbeck Wrote a Werewolf Mystery That No One Wanted to Publish—Until Now


If history had gone a bit differently, John Steinbeck might have been counted right alongside Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley as one of literature’s great horror writers. One of the author’s early works was a werewolf mystery novel titled Murder at Full Moon. The book was never published, and now fans are petitioning for its posthumous release, The Guardian reports.

Steinbeck was a struggling writer when he penned Murder at Full Moon. Publishers rejected the story in 1930, about a decade before his American classic The Grapes of Wrath hit shelves. The 233-page unpublished manuscript now sits in the archives of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin.

The novel focuses on a California town terrorized by a string of murders that only occur during the full moon. Investigators suspect a supernatural being is responsible for the grisly deaths. As the story unfolds, a reporter, an amateur detective, and the manager of a local gun club get caught up in the mystery.

Professor Gavin Jones—who specializes in American literature at Stanford University—and Steinbeck biographer William Souder are among those in the literary community asking for the book to be published posthumously. Though there’s plenty of interest in an unpublished werewolf story from the famous realist, fans will likely be waiting a while to read it. Steinbeck’s literary agents, McIntosh & Otis, told the Observer: “As Steinbeck wrote Murder at Full Moon under a pseudonym and did not choose to publish the work during his lifetime, we uphold what Steinbeck had wanted.”

Murder at Full Moon is far from the only story Steinbeck didn’t have published during his lifetime. In 1958, the author started a book based on King Arthur called The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, but he abandoned the project in 1959. The unfinished work would eventually be published in 1976, eight years after Steinbeck passed away. Here are more facts about the author.

[h/t The Guardian]

For more fascinating facts and stories about your favorite authors and their works, check out Mental Floss’s new book, The Curious Reader: A Literary Miscellany of Novels and Novelists, out May 25!

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